"Let me make one thing clear," the dryad said before opening the door, "If you touch anything, I will kill you. If you move anything, I will kill you. If you break anything, I will kill you. If you smudge anything, I will kill you. And when I'm done killing you, I will mail your remains back to the Fairy Council and ask them to record it for me when they kill you."
All three of us were standing in the hallway, just inches away from the room that held some of the most valuable and mythical items in all of history. The dryad that stood in front of the door was the keeper of everything in that room, plus the more common artifacts scattered around the rest of the off-limits building. The two small fairies in front of him, us, were messengers for the Fairy Council.
"I hope you don't think I'm kidding," He said. "I've killed your kind before. I have the Council's complaint letters to prove it."
"We'll be good," I said, eager to get inside. "Now move."
The dryad glared at us for another second, then stepped aside. He pulled some jewel encrusted keys from his pocket and opened three different locks that ran along the top of the wooden door. He pushed it open, then ushered us through. Inside were glass cases filled with old books written in dead languages, weapons hanging on the walls with curses written on the blades, bottles on the counters with dried up sprites in them, and paintings of wars drawn in the blood of extinct animals. Despite the dryad's disapproving look, Katch and I split up to explore the aisles, opening drawers and peeking behind curtains to see all there was to see. Dorothy's slippers, the hunchback's first bell, a lock of the fox and hound's fur, and whatever else that we passed. The dryad motioned us over the a case that stood alone in the corner. Carefully, he opened the door and took out the large sword that was hanging on its holder. He wrapped it in a thin, silk cloth and handed it over to us.
"Be careful with Excalibur," He said, "It may not break easily, but I don't want you to lose it. Tell the council to bring it back when they're done with it."
Me and Katch both lunged for it, and the dryad snatched it back. "Be careful!" Begrudgingly, I let Katch carry it.
The dryad more or less dragged us back outside and locked the door without so much as a goodbye.
"Well, that was rude." I said when we got back outside. "He could have let us walk around a little more."
"Want to take a short-cut over the city?" Katch asked, stretching out his wings. "I'd prefer looking over the city than miles of forest."
"I don't know. There are a lot of birds this time of year."
Katch shrugged, gave me the sword, said "Well, if you want to fly over the woods, be my guest," and took to the sky. I leapt into the air after him, refusing to miss out on the view of the city because of territorial flying rats. We were doing well, looking at the humans going about their noisy business, until Katch pointed down.
"Hey, isn't that the historical park?"
I heard a lot about the humans' historical parks. Unlike the fairies, who hid their treasures away to keep it safe from theives, humans plopped their past out in the open for all to steal and vandalize. Statues, buildings, ancient artifacts, and more were entrusted to these historical parks that were subject to fires and weather. If we ever did something like that, fairies would flock from all over the world just to get a peek and to possibly wreck something. Humans, however, didn't care much for history, and if they had anything mythical, they didn't believe it. I averted my attention from what was in front of me to look where Katch was pointing. Not even two seconds after I did, I flew right into a flock of seagulls. I shrieked as I hit the birds, then shrieked some more when I felt the sword slip out of the silk cloth. I fought my way out of the birds' path and flew to Katch.
"I dropped Excalibur!"
"It was the birds, I didn't-"
Katch grabbed my arm and dropped out of the air, only slowing down enough to not get damaged in the landing. We fell on the ground and immediately began searching for the sword, grateful that humans don't bother much with historical/educational places. Because I was focusing so hard on the ground, I ran right into a rock that was at least twice my size. I rubbed my head and backed up.
"Hey, uh, Katch? I found the sword."
Katch ran over to where I was standing and gaped at Excalibur, which was now hilt deep in the stone.
"We can get it," I said before Katch had a meltdown. "We just have to," I jumped onto the stone and began pulling, "Get this out of the- Oh, for the love of all things bright and shiny."
I had just found the inscription on the rock.
"Only the true king/queen of (Insert name of place here) can remove the sword from the stone," Katch read. "Kell, I really hope you're a queen, or else we are screwed."
"Why is this even here?" I said, pulling at the sword, "This rock should be in a safe place, not out in the open for any human to walk up to it! Historical parks are just a criminal's-"
"Kell, get down," Katch hissed pressing his back against the stone to hide his wings, "Some people are coming."
I jumped off the rock and did the same, trying to look normal as I hid my pointed ears. When the place cleared out again, I climbed back on the stone and continued pulling.
"Kell, it's no use, you know how the legend goes. We'll just go back to the Fairy Council and they'll-"
"Do you have any idea what they'll do to us when they find out we dropped Excalibur? Not to mention the fact that we may not even be able to get it out! Now help me!"
Katch and I yanked the sword until our arms felt like they would be torn from our shoulders, then gave up and slid to the floor.
"We have to tell the Fairy Council," Katch said, "They might know what to do."
"Easy for you to say, you weren't the one who dropped it."
"We have to do something!"
We stood at the large double doors that separated us from the Fairy Council's meeting room. "They were expecting us to walk in, heads held high, with Excalibur in our hands. They were expecting us to not have messed up a simple transport task. They were expecting us to have enough competence to not drop a dangerous and rare sword amidst a bunch of power-hungry humans who still doubted our existence. They were expecting not to have to kill us in the most horrifying way a fairy was capable of."
"You know you said that out loud, right?" Katch asked me.
"Good, now I don't have to repeat myself when you ask me why I left." I turned around and walked away, but Katch pulled me back and opened the door.
For a split second, there was conversation noise, then all eyes turned to us as the room fell silent. The Council sat on the far side of the long, rectangular table that held food and drinks of all shapes and sizes. Clearly, it was a celebration party for their long hours spent getting permission to have Excalibur all for their own, even if it was just temporary. The president, Fay, stood up, expression going from expectation to confusion to suspicion while we walked up to the table. We waited, silently, for Fay to address us.
Katch and I both stared at the floor, mentally willing each other to speak up. When neither of us did, we glared at each other for being a coward.
"Where's the sword, Kell?" Fay asked, voice raised.
"Well, I uh...You, you know that old legend about king Arthur?"
The Fairy Council scooted closer together to hear our story better, all the while passing glances at Fay to get an idea about how bad we were going to get it. Fay just listened, face expressionless. She wasn't killing me yet. That's a good sign, right?
"And we couldn't get it out, so we came here." I finished.
Fay nodded. "And you say is was you who dropped it, Kell?"
The next thing I knew, Fay was on top of the table, her hands around my throat, strangling me. She knocked over her hot coffee into the laps of the members of the council that had the misfortune to be sitting next to her when I fell to my knees, clawing at her hands.
"Clumsy dizzy-eyed oaf!" She screamed as the rest of the council clambered over the table, dropping plates of food and cups, to pry her hands off my neck (Which only made her squeeze tighter), "Of all the stupid, klutzy, ill-timed-"
Her grip only loosened when Katch grabbed a plate and broke it over her head, yelling apologies over her insults as he did. It wasn't much, but it was enough to allow the council to pull her arms off and drag her back to their side of the table. When they got her back in her chair, she kicked one of the fairies in blind fury and sent him tumbling over the table, dragging what little was left onto the floor with him. I scrambled to my feet and ran, tripping over broken plates, to stand by Katch who was still processing the fact that he hit the modern day equivalent to a fairy queen.
They held Fay down until she stopped trying to gouge their eyes out with a fork. When she tired herself out, the Council busied themselves with cleaning up the mess so they wouldn't risk triggering another attack. Katch and I, however, were left standing in front of Fay.
"Get. The. Sword. Back." Fay snarled.
"See, that's a bit of a problem." I said, "It's still in the stone, and the inscription says only royalty can get it out."
"America doesn't have a king!" Fay snapped.
"Can't we just take it somewhere that does?" One of the councilmen asked.
Fay shook her head, "It has to stay where it landed or it won't work. Who is the highest leader of America?"
"The president? It's election time, so no one, really."
The entire Fairy Council, about twenty curious commoners, Katch, and I stood around the sword in the stone. Capes and our choice of either large headphones or hats were passed around to hide our wings and ears. We've arrived early to make sure we had enough time to cover, but we didn't expect it to be so empty. In fact, the only humans here were some little kids climbing on statues and a construction worker using a jackhammer a few yards away. We waited until the predetermined time, then waited a half hour longer.
"They're not coming," One of the fairies muttered.
Not even two seconds after she said that, the gates opened and humans poured into the park, snapping pictures with their bright, annoying devices and shouting at the two men who were getting out of their limos. Some people in black suits were holding the crowd back as the candidates smiled at the paparazzi, shaking hands with anyone in their path, signing autographs, and all around wasting time with their showmanship. The kids who were playing on the statues stopped to watch as the construction worker set down his jackhammer. People followed the fancy men, yelling their questions above the roar of the other people asking their questions, until they reached the stone. The clamor died down as podiums seemed to appear from nowhere. The presidential candidates took their places, wasting more time, and started giving speeches. We waited patiently for about a minute, then Fay walked over and grabbed one of the men's arms, nearly giving a bodyguard a heart attack.
"Forget about the people and get the sword out already!" She hissed.
One of the bodyguards made a move to remove her, but the republican wannabe president stopped him. "Now this little girl," he said, addressing the crowd as much as he was the bodyguard, "Alerted me and my rival here of the sword and stone's existence."
"It's been here since King Arthur's time!" Fay snapped.
"And by pulling the sword out, we, as well as all of America, will know who is the rightful president of this beautiful country." The democrat finished for him.
The humans cheered and clapped as the fairies rolled their eyes. Clearly enjoying the attention, the democrat stepped to the sword, paused as more cheers erupted, and yanked on the hilt.
He gave it a few more tries, then quietly stepped down when the republican candidate tapped him on the shoulder. The democratic reporters were already making up excuses for why he couldn't do it and claiming it was rigged as the republican reporters were declaring their candidate to be the rightful president in big bold letters. The republican grabbed on to the sword, his victory already confirmed, and pulled.
There was a brief moment of silence, then everything exploded into noise and fighting. The presidential candidates were shouting at each other, the journalists were yelling questions and shoving each other to get closer, and the bodyguards were already requesting backup. We the fairies were getting as far from Fay as we could. Fay yelled for a bit, then turned around and walked to where the construction worker was watching the chaos. She pushed him aside, took his jackhammer, and walked back to the stone.
"Fay!" Katch shouted above the noise, "Don't do it! There's got to be someone who can get it, every land has a ruler!"
Fay jumped onto the rock and screamed, "THIS IS AMERICA! WE DON'T DO THINGS THE HARD WAY!"
We ran for cover as bits of rocks flew into the crowd. The voices turned into screams that were nearly drowned out by the sound of the jackhammer mutilating the magical stone. I dove behind a tree and covered my ears as a piece of the rock flew by, which bloodied Katch's nose as he scrambled for the safety of a statue. Even after Excalibur was retrieved by a member of the Fairy Council, Fay kept going and didn't stop until the stone was scattered in pieces all over the park. When there was nothing left to destroy, Fay stopped the jackhammer, breathing heavily, and threw it on the ground. Half from fear and half from knowing we had to get out of there fast, I and the rest of the fairies took to the air with Fay following close behind. I looked back briefly to see the humans left on the ground. They were peeking out of their hiding spots, wondering what happened to the small children in capes, hats, and headphone.